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Environmental Crime Legal Framework in Paraguay

​​Section II of Paraguay’s constitution is entitled “Of the Environment” and offers protective measures. For example, Article 7 reads:

“Everyone has the right to live in a healthy and ecologically balanced [equilibrado] environment. The preservation, the conservation, the re-composition and the improvement of the environment, as well as its conciliation with the complete [integral] human development, constitute priority objectives of social interest. These purposes orient the legislation and the pertinent governmental policy.”

Article 8, on the other hand, states:

“The law will regulate the activities susceptible to producing [an] environmental alteration. In the same way [asimismo], it may restrict or prohibit those [activities] that it qualifies as dangerous. The manufacture, the assembly, the importation, the commercialization, the possession or the use of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, as well as the introduction of toxic waste into the country is prohibited. The law may extend this prohibition to other dangerous elements; in the same way, it may regulate the traffic of genetic resources and their technology, [as a] precaution in [precautelando] the national interests. Ecological crime will be defined and sanctioned by the law. Any damage to the environment will result in [importará] the obligation to repair [recomponer] and to indemnify.”

Featured Legislation

1995: Law 536 was passed. This law states that the State shall provide the afforestation and reforestation action in forest priority areas, based on a Forest Management Plan and with the incentives established in this document. The priority areas are exempt from other legal obligations, such as the Agrarian Reform. The document details the specific rules associated with priority areas. To incentivise growing forestry, the State will apply a one-time cost rebate by 75% for each afforested or reforested area. These concerns the direct costs of implantation and management costs (art. 7).

1999: Law 1561 was signed. This law creates and regulates the functioning of the agencies responsible for the development, standardization, coordination, execution and oversight of national environmental policy and management. It notably creates the National System of the Environment (SISNAM), integrated by the set of organs and public entities of the national, departmental and municipal governments, with environmental competence; and private entities created with the same purpose. The system also aims at avoiding institutional conflicts, gaps or competition overlaps. The System’s supervisory attributions include climate-related matters.

2005: Law 2748 was adopted. This law aims at favoring the uptake of biofuels production and consumption in the country. It focuses on biodiesel, absolute and hydrated bioetanol. The industrial production of biofuels is declared of national interest in art. 4. The law allows for people and entities engaging in biofuel production to benefit from tax incentives defined in laws 60/90 and 2421/04. The document further sets regulatory rules around the scheme.

2006: Law N ° 3001/06 (strengthening the adaptation capacity of ecosystems and the protection of their biodiversity) was brought into force. This law promotes the conservation, protection, recovery and sustainable development of the country’s biological diversity and natural resources, through the fair, timely and adequate valuation and remuneration of environmental services. Article 2 lists carbon absorption as one of the environmental services in scope.

2007: The Framework law on natural gas no. 3254/07 (mitigation of environmental impact) was approved. This law aims at promoting jobs and energy alternatives, protecting consumer interests, protecting the environment, and promoting energy conservation through the promotion of natural gas. It also seeks to identify solutions adequate to each region in Paraguay. A favorable fiscal regime for natural gas is instituted.

2014: Law no. 5211 (on Air Quality) was promulgated. This law aims at protecting the air and the atmosphere, through the prevention and regulation of chemical pollution. It follows the principles of precaution, prevention and compensation. GHG gasses are within the regulative framework set out by this law. The document further defines the means of protecting the air and atmosphere.

2017: The National Law on Climate Change was created, establishing a normative framework in Paraguay for mitigation and adaptation, in line with its adhesion to the Paris Agreement and the National Development Plan. It aims in particular at implementing actions that reduce the country’s vulnerabilities to climate change and actions which allow it to reduce its greenhouse gasses emissions. These actions are developed in a National Plan for Climate Change which will detail and actualise the dedicated policies.  The law further mandates the creation of a number of institutions: 1) the National Commission on Climate Change as an multi institutional body in charge of setting up and updating the country’s policy strategies, 2) a National Directorate on Climate Change as the executive body in charge of applying climate change policies, and 3) the Climate Change Fund that will be under managed by the executive’s Environment Secretariat (Seam). More broadly, the Secretariat will oversee public and private funds directed towards mitigation and adaptation.

2020: Law 6676/2020 (prohibiting the activities of transformation and conversion of areas with forest cover in the Eastern Region) was brought into force. This law aims to regulate the protection, recovery and improvement of the native forest in the Eastern Region so that the forest fulfills its environmental, social and economic functions, contributing to the improvement of the quality of life of the inhabitants of the country.

Featured Case Studies: Transnational Environmental Crime, Human Security, and Biosecurity

  • According to a 2021 Global Witness report,  212 environmental and land activists were murdered in 2019: For their involvement in protesting intensive mining, agribusiness and the impacts of climate change. The activists most at-risk are those with close connections to the land: subsistence farmers, tribal leaders, lawyers, and organizers, who criticize environmental and human rights abuses. Referred to as “environmental defenders” by The United Nations, these activists have experienced gross human rights violations and are in need of protection from national and international law. For example, on 11th May 2019, Pelagio Santacruz, leader of the Santa Librada settlement and member of the Coordinadora de Trabajadores Campesinos y Urbanos (Coordination of Peasants and Urban Workers – CTCU), was  shot twice in front of his home in Paraguay. The CTCU claims that Santacruz was attacked by members of an organization which is linked to a larger land conflict in the region. Santa Librada is a 3000 hectare settlement in the Caazapá department, inhabited by around 200 peasant families and the Paraguayan Human Rights Coordination (CODEHUPY) has since launched a campaign to denounce the  criminalisation of Santacruz and four other environmental defenders in the Capiibary district. (CODEHUPY) has also revealed that  four women, Mariela López, Celina Aguilar, Sonia Fretes and Graciela Silva, were being prosecuted for protesting against illegal agrochemical fumigation in soy fields near the Mariscal López community. The Public Prosecutor’s Office has indicted them for their involvement in a campaign entitled  “Se trata de vida o muerte” (“It is about life or death”) which highlights the women’s fight against use of agrochemicals which contaminate local water sources and impair the local population’s health.
  • In a related vein, in March 2019, around 5,000 Paraguayan peasants, farm workers, agricultural workers and indigenous people  participated in the 26th annual Peasant March in Asunción. The march was organized by the Federación Nacional Campesina (National Peasant Federation – FNC), with the slogan “Land and production for national development, building people’s power”. Members of the movement bring attention to land reform and land distribution in Paraguay: approximately 90% of the land is in the hands of 5% of landowners according to data from Oxfam. Indigenous communities have been disproportionately affected by the land reform and distribution policies –  the Tacuara’i community  occupied a public square in central Asunción  in 2019: Demanding support from the authorities in recovering their ancestral land after being displaced from their territory in the 1980s during the Stroessner dictatorship.

References and Further Reading


Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development, Operational Focal Point:

Mrs. Graciela Soledad Miret Martinez,;